Our lab’s public event for the International Mother Language Day

On the 21st of February our lab delivered a public event for the International Mother Language day, called “Learning languages for a healthy brain”. In what turned up to be a successful event, we had the opportunity to talk about the current developments in the study of bilingualism and its effects on the mind and the brain to a very keen and engaged audience from Reading and beyond! Here are some photos from that evening.




The audience votes: what do they think bilingualism is?


Bilingualism: learning two labels for the same concepts


Demonstrating the structure of (my own!) brain


Vocabulary development in monolingual and bilingual children


Najla Alrwaita talking about bilingualism in children


Michal Korenar talking about bilingualism and flexible thinking


Toms Voits talking about bilingualism and ageing


Our panel during the Q&A session



Professor Ludovica Serratrice, Director of CeLM


Questions from our audience

Learning Languages for a Healthy Brain- title slide

We would like to thank our audience for the very interesting Q&A session, but also the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM), and Marketing Communications and Engagement Team of the University of Reading for their support throughout the event.

Missed this event? Our lab has got another gig scheduled as part of the Pint of Science festival, to be held in Reading in 20-22 May. See you there!


Listen to our lab’s interview about bilingualism and the brain at BBC Radio Berkshire

Last week our own Toms Voits gave an interview to Phil Kennedy and BBC Radio Berkshire about his research and the public even that our lab is presenting tonight! You still have a chance to hear what he had to say here (from 40:20, BBC login needed)

New theoretical paper on structural plasticity in the bilingual brain, in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition

Pliatsikas, C. (in press): Understanding structural plasticity in the bilingual brain: The Dynamic Restructuring Model

To access, click here


Research on the effects of bi-/multilingualism on brain structure has so far yielded variable patterns. Although it cannot be disputed that learning and using additional languages restructures grey (cortical, subcortical and cerebellar) and white matter in the brain, both increases and reductions in regional volume and diffusivity have been reported. This paper revisits the available evidence from simultaneous and sequential bilinguals, multilinguals, interpreters, bimodal bilinguals, children, patients and healthy older adults from the perspective of experience-based neuroplasticity. The Dynamic Restructuring Model (DRM) is then presented, a three-stage model accounting for, and reinterpreting, all the available evidence by proposing a time-course for the reported structural adaptations, and by suggesting that these adaptations are dynamic and depend on the quantity and quality of the language learning and switching experience. This is followed by suggestions for future directions for the emerging field of bilingualism-induced neuroplasticity.

Figure 1

Public event: Learning languages for a healthy brain

The Bilingualism in The Brain lab is pleased to invite everyone to a public event on 21st February – International Mother Language Day – at the University of Reading. The title of the event is “Learning languages for a healthy brain”, and it will be specifically addressed to non-experts in bilingualism!

Date: 21 February 2019 

Time: 20:00-22:00

Location: Room G01, Building L022, London Road campus, University of Reading, Reading

Book your place here

About this event: Evidence increasingly suggests that speaking more than one language is good for your mind and brain. This is because bilinguals must constantly choose which language they will use each time, while preventing the non-relevant language from interfering. Inevitably, this “trains” the brain to be more flexible when switching between languages. This process not only causes the structure of the brain to physically change, but it also applies to a variety of other tasks that have nothing to do with language learning and using, and it might even prove beneficial in older age.

In this event, researchers from the Bilingualism in the Brain lab at the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism will explain what language learning can do for you, and the importance of its effects for young and older healthy learners and users of additioanl languages, as well as bilingual patients with neurodegeneration. This will be done with interactive discussions and activities which will explain recent discoveries in the field.

For more information related to the work in our lab, check this post from the blog of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism at the University of Reading, as well as the YouTube video below


Graduation day!

Last week our lab attended the graduation of our first alumnus, Vincent Deluca! Here are some pictures of that nice day!



Apart from Vince, that day marked the graduation of Holly Davies (MSc in Speech and Language Therapy) and Einas Alharbi (MSc in Language Sciences), former MScs students affiliated with our lab, and also Najla Alrwaita (MSc in Language Sciences), one of our new PhD students. Congratulations to all!

New book chapter on psycholinguistic methods

Pliatsikas, C. and Marinis, T. (in press) Online psycholinguistic methods in second language acquisition research. To appear in Chapelle, C. (ed.) The Concise Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Wiley

To access please use the contact form 


Second language acquisition (SLA) research has traditionally used paper-and-pencil tasks, such as grammaticality judgment and completion tasks. In such tasks, participants usually have time to read the whole sentence, they can think and reflect about its form and meaning, and then make a conscious judgment about its grammaticality or how to complete it. This is why these tasks are called offline; that is, the information we get is after the participant has read the whole sentence and has had time to think about it. This is in contrast to online methods that measure how participants process sentences as they unfold word by word or phrase by phrase; that is, these methods measure how participants process sentences in real time. This entry focuses on widely used behavioral online methods, and will provide a short introduction to four such methods recently used in SLA research to address how second language (L2) learners process sentences in real time. These methods are: (a) word monitoring, (b) self-paced reading/listening, (c) cross-modal priming, and (d) self-paced listening with picture verification. Each method is described with examples from key L2 studies. This is followed by a section discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each of these methods. The final section provides a brief overview of eye-tracking, a behavioral method which is gaining popularity in the field, along with its advantages and disadvantages.